NEW YORK (AP) -- A British dollmaker who turned a squeaky clean Barbie into a Dungeon Doll with the help of a rubber bondage dress and helmet did not appear to violate the copyrights of Mattel Inc., a judge says.
U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain based her findings on arguments made by Mattel and the defendant, Susanne Pitt, who communicated from her residence in Gateshead, England, with two letters and two e-mails.
The judge's November 1 ruling permitted a lawsuit filed by Mattel against Pitt to go forward but said there did not appear to be the kind of evidence in the record for the toymaker to win.
The El Segundo, California, company says it seeks to stop Pitt from further infringing on its copyrights and seeks $10,000 in statutory damages and $1,350 in legal fees.
"We are committed to vigorously protecting our established trademarks, which includes Barbie," Mattel spokeswoman Lisa Marie Bongiovanni said Thursday.
Pitt's telephone number in England was not listed.
The judge, referencing an advertised description of the partly nude doll in "lederhosen-style Bavarian bondage dress and helmet in rubber with PVC-mask," wrote that the Dungeon Doll is "quite different from that typically appearing on Mattel's products for children."
"It appears that there is a slim to no likelihood that `Dungeon Dolls' would serve as a market substitute for Barbie dolls," she said. "The sale or display of `adult' dolls does not appear to be a use Mattel would likely develop or license others to develop."
Such a parody appears to pose no threat to Mattel's sales of Barbie dolls and thus does not seem to violate the company's copyright, the judge concluded.
In her written correspondence, Pitt defended her unusually costumed and painted doll, with a SuperStar Barbie head, which was featured in a sexually explicit story on a Web site that offered various sexual paraphernalia and Dungeon Dolls for sale. Mattel said it bought a Dungeon Doll for $186.
Pitt argued that Barbie is frequently subjected to parody and satire but that Mattel does not distinguish "between social commentary and commercial exploitation" in its enforcement efforts.
She said she stopped offering the dolls when Mattel complained and she notified the court on October 2, 2001, that her Web site was closing due to her financial difficulties.